The Spectacle Blog

McCain Aide Won’t Rule Out Soc. Security Tax Hikes

By on 6.13.08 | 3:34PM

John McCain's senior economic policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin would not explicitly rule out tax increases to solve the Social Security crisis when prompted on a just completed conference call. Though Holtz-Eakin insisted that McCain is personally opposed to any tax increases, he said it's "premature to answer hypotheticals" about what "tradeoffs" might be involved in a bipartisan agreement on the imperiled entitlement program.

At a campaign stop in Pemberton/>, New Jersey/>/> earlier today, McCain said of Social Security: "We've got to tell the American people that we got to fix it. And we got to sit down together, the way that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did back in 1983 and fix Social Security."

During a McCain campaign conference call this afternoon, I noted that the bipartisan 1983 actions didn't "fix" anything and that they included tax increases. "Would Senator McCain rule out any sort of tax increases to solve the Social Security problem?" I asked.

Holtz-Eakin responded that there are a "variety of ways" to address the problem of Social Security, and that McCain has made his position clear.

"His personal belief is it's not necessary to raise taxes to do this, he also...sees a role for personal individual investment accounts," Holtz-Eakin said. "He's made clear what the solution should be, he's made clear that a solution is possible, the only thing that is missing is the political agreement of leadership, and bipartisanship, to get it done."

Another reporter followed up by asking Holtz-Eakin whether, regardless of McCain's personal beliefs, there would be any conditions under which he would agree to raise taxes. He again reiterated his statement that there are other ways to solve the problem.

"It's clear that this will require bipartisan action," Holtz-Eakin said. "If we see a failure to do that, [McCain] would send up his proposal. Where in that sequence of events tough calls might have to be made, I'm not far enough to forecast at this time, and so it's premature to answer hypotheticals about the tradeoffs involved."

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